The current pandemic has presented a unique set of challenges to university students across the country. Social distancing measures, self-isolation and working from home can all easily lead to feelings of boredom and loneliness, which can affect mental health and make it difficult to study effectively.
To help those currently studying from home, Kelly Burwood, Head of Student Support Services at The University of Law, offers six tips for effective home study.
1. Focus on quality study time
It’s easy to slip into a habit of procrastination but creating a structured timetable so you’re doing the same tasks at the same time every week is useful for maintaining focus. This is easier to stick to than a haphazard learning plan and frees up headspace for your studies, which may otherwise be taken up by figuring out what to do and when to do it.
Once you know the specific task you are about to do, it’s important to dedicate uninterrupted focus to this. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method used to break work down into 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks. Set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes and do your best to focus solely on your set task during the interval, not interrupting yourself.
After each 25-minute burst, take a short break to grab a drink or have a walk around the house. Do four of these pomodoros then take a longer 20-30-minute break.
2. Have a dedicated study space
If at all possible, your study space should be somewhere not used for other purposes. Areas such as your bed or sofa should be avoided, as they can lead to associations of these spaces becoming mixed up with social areas, which may impact on your focus.
It’s also important to make sure you’re sitting comfortably with good back support. Use cushions to lift yourself up so your eyes are level with the middle of your screen and your forearms are parallel to the tabletop.
If you’re studying in a shared space, try to agree on set study times where you can be undisturbed.
3. Stay in touch with your course mates
Keeping in contact with course mates is a great way to break up your day and alleviate feelings of loneliness. Set up a virtual study group like you would in person, where you meet on Zoom or Google Hangouts once a week to chat about any course-related issues that you may be able to help each other with.
You could even set up virtual coffee breaks or lunches with each other to ensure you’re making time for socialising outside of academic work.
4. Make use of your housemates
If you share a house with fellow students, or friends and family, take advantage of this by quizzing each other on your respective subjects. This is another way to break up your day and provides an alternative method of learning.
Quizlet is a free assistive app that can help with this and is available to download onto any Wi-Fi enabled device.
Collaborative learning is an effective method for reinforcing knowledge, so try taking some time to explain theories or concepts to your housemates.
Of course, if you are self-isolating this may not always be possible, in this case try to make use of video calls as much as you can to apply these ideas in a virtual environment.
5. Review assessment material
Practicing assessment technique is a crucial part of your study. Use your workshop tasks and activities, mock assessments and specimen assessments to test yourself, then check your answers against your notes.
Remember that your tutors are still there to help, so ask questions about feedback on mock assessments, as well as any other areas you’re unsure of.
6. Take care of your health
Taking care of your mental and physical health is vitally important. Bearing in mind lockdown rules, getting some daylight and exercise is great for a change of scenery and to get your heart pumping. Even soaking up some spring sun in the garden for a few minutes can do wonders for your wellbeing.
Although gyms are closed, you can do some excellent workouts from home. Whether you are into yoga, cardio, or weightlifting, basic equipment can be purchased online for a relatively small amount. Even something as simple as a skipping rope can give you a terrific workout.
Try to move around throughout the day, even just for a quick stretch to prevent aches and pains.
Also, maintaining a balanced diet is a big part of staying healthy. Nutritious meals, along with plenty of water, will help boost your brain function.
Kelly Burwood at ULaw adds: “Everyone is facing an unprecedented set of challenges at the moment, especially students who are often under pressure at this time of year anyway due to assessments.
“Making use of technology is a great way to bridge the gap of social distancing and bring people closer together without compromising health. Even a simple video call to catch up with a friend can bring a smile to your face and alleviate those feelings of loneliness and boredom.”